Patient-Therapist Relationships

  • June 2, 2016

What makes a good patient-therapist relationship?

This information can certainly be valuable to future patients and therapists alike. Patients want to know how to choose a good PT to go to for quality care. It is important for PTs because if we are unaware of important factors for patients, then we could be set up for failure with patients by not meeting their expectations.

A recent systematic review and meta-synthesis (basically a summary of findings from many other studies- highest level of evidence) by O’Keeffe et al see here ( in the Physical Therapy journal looked at this question. What they discovered were 4 key factors.

  1. Communication skills of the therapist: did the PT listen to the patient, engage in active listening, show empathy, was encouraging, confident (not arrogant)
  2. PT skill set: what was their level of education or advanced training, ability to provide good education to the patent regarding their condition and plan of care
  3. Individualized Patient-Centered Care: did treatment see to be cookie-cutter or did treatment match needs of the patient, did treatment take into account patient values
  4. Organization/environment: convenient/flexible appt times, good overall clinic feel/experience

What this article does is hopefully enlighten PTs as to what patients want from their PT experience, and give areas to improve upon with some self reflection. From the patient side of things, these 4 factors can help them shop around to find a PT who will provide that quality level of care to meet their needs.

To all patients…do not just blindly settle for some physical therapist. All PTs are not created equal. You all have the right to choose whoever you want, no doctor can mandate who you see though they may make a suggestion (hopefully it is a good one and not otherwise financially motivated). You deserve good care to help you return to the function you desire, go seek it.

If you do have further questions on how to choose a PT, please check out for more tips.

2 comments on “Patient-Therapist Relationships

  1. Greg Holly says:

    Great article and very well explained. I believe in professionals so this is a very useful article for everyone. Many thanks for your share.

    1. Andy Zang says:

      Greg- you are welcome. It really is important for all medical professionals to step up to the plate and deliver high quality care for patients, not just care that satisfies the employer to make money for the company.

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